Burn

wheel
10 July 2015

“Dennis,” said Chuck. “I gotta tell you how I got Metro this morning.” He could hardly get the words out, he was laughing so hard. “We were on the corner talking when this big woman came by, she must have weighed three hundred pounds. I said to Metro, ‘How would you like to have her sitting on your face?’ Metro was flabbergasted — you know how skinny he is — he said, ‘Chuck, are you crazy! She’d kill me!’ I went in to get my coffee and when I came out I said to him, ‘If you were to take her to a bar for three quarts of beer, give her some of my water pills, then, maybe, she’d give you a golden shower.’ He didn’t like that. He said, ‘Chuck get away from here. That’s something I don’t even want to think about! That image will haunt me for the rest of the day!’ I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair — the sheer look of horror on Metro’s face was priceless. I wish you’d been there. I don’t know where that came from or how these things pop into my head.”

I said, “Next time I see him I’ll ask if he’s had a shower.”

“That’ll be good,”

A grey haired woman I recognized, approached us.  She asked, “Chuck, are you warm?”

“Yes,” he replied.

To me she said, “I always think he looks so warm.”

I said, “He could still use a hug.”

She said, “I know, I always give him a hug and a kiss.” She was digging in her big purse for some change to give to Chuck.  She said, “Look what I did to my hand.” The area of her hand around her thumb and first finger was red and painful looking.

I asked, “Did you scald yourself? Is that a burn from a kettle?”

“No, my coffee was getting cold and I put it in the microwave. I just twirled the dial and went away. I don’t know why I do that. When I came back it was boiling.  I knew the cup would be hot so I used a pot holder to take it from the microwave. I was going to pour it into a travel mug. It just exploded and went all over my hand. I ran to the sink and held it under cold water for about thirty seconds, then went over to my friend’s house.  She’s like a nurse, not really but she always has things like Polysporin and bandages at the ready. She poured cold water in the sink and told me to keep my hand in there for twenty minutes. It took the pain away immediately — You should remember that in case you ever burn yourself — Then she put Polysporin and a dressing on it. That was two weeks ago. I think I should go to my doctor and get some antibiotics, just in case.”

She put some change into Chuck’s cap, bent over, hugged him and kissed his cheek. He responded in kind.

When she left he said, “I don’t think I’m going to stay here much longer.”

I took that as my cue to say, “Yes, I should get to work,” even though by my watch I was thirty minutes early. “If the weather’s good, I’ll see you on Monday.”

“See you.”
 

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Don’t Mess with Joe

 

walker

 

9 July 2015

I was expecting to meet my friends at the park. They said they’d be there, but street people have a very flexible concept of time. Most of them don’t wear watches (an obvious indication of wealth). One has a cell phone, but the screen is so shattered that viewing is nearly impossible. I continued past the park, towards the bridge, where I saw Joe in his walker. We both waved.

“Hi Joe.”

“It’s good to see you,” said Joe. His upturned cap was on the sidewalk in front of him. “Good afternoon, ladies,” he said to some women walking by. “Don’t mind me I like people and if I’m cheerful they treat me better.

“That one’s Inuit from Baffin Island. Do you know how to tell the difference between a woman from the Northwest Territories and the ones from Baffin? The ones from the Territories have a nice round bum, the others have a flat bum. I’m part Cree, but I don’t speak it. There are twenty-seven different dialects, that’s a lot to learn. I’m fluent in French though. Bonjour, Madam.”  A grey haired woman turned and smiled. “I have a lot better luck with the older ones. The young ones are nicer to look at, but I only get one of those every six months or so. A couple of nights ago two women walked by. We talked for a while and I asked them, ‘Would you care to join me behind the bushes for a little fun?’ One of them said, ‘Show us the tool you have between your legs, then we can decide whether or not it’ll be worth our while.’ I didn’t mind, I stood up and dropped my jeans. ‘It looks like you’ll do,’ one of them said. The three of us spent most of the night together.

“I sleep back there. Last night it rained for about twenty minutes. I thought, This will be a good chance to wash my beard. I went down near the water and the rain stopped. It’s a good thing I wasn’t all lathered. There’s no way I’d wash in that water from the river; it’s too polluted.

“I have a lot of nasal congestion, so when I go to a restaurant I grab a big handful of napkins. When I buy my beer I always ask them to put it in a bag. When I have to blow my nose I put the used napkins in the bag. Later, I’ll dump it in one of the trash containers. I like to keep my place neat.

“The cops came back there one time. They said ‘Joe, you really shouldn’t be sleeping back here.’ They looked around and found an injection needle. ‘Do you know anything about this?’ they asked as they picked it up with rubber gloves. I said, “Sure, I found a guy shooting up back here. With one hand I grabbed him by the shirt collar, with the other I grabbed him by the ass of his pants, then I tossed him in that dumpster there. It took him most of the night to get out. At about that time my brother — who is six foot nine — and twenty of his gang buddies rode up on their Harleys. ‘Are these two pigs giving you a rough time, Joe?’ my brother asked. They picked up the squad car and carried it to the railing of the bridge. He asked, ‘Should we throw it over?’ I said, ‘Hell no, a shitload of grief would come down on me and I’d have to find another place to live.’ They dropped the car on the pavement, it bounced a few times, the cops jumped in and drove away. It helps to have family and friends in high places.

“I’ve got ten brothers and six sisters — my mother was a nympho — I’m the shortest of the boys at six foot four. I teased my mom and asked, ‘Before I was born, are you sure you weren’t cheating on Dad?’ I got out of there quick. Mom kept a sawed off shotgun in the kitchen.

“Another time, before breakfast,  I took a carton of eggs out of the fridge. With a needle I made a tiny hole in the shell of each egg, then sucked the egg out of the shell.  I filled the shells with water, put them in the freezer, just long enough so they would start to freeze. When my mom tried to crack one of the eggs all that came out was water. I nearly busted a gut laughing. Mom was alright, she could take a joke.”

 

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Home Invasion

 

bench

 

7 July 2015

I walked towards the park and to my surprise, a group of my friends were sitting on the curb. I gave a wave and they waved back. I shook hands with Shark, Little Jake and Outcast. Mariah stood and gave me a hug.

Outcast said, “It must be a year since I saw you last.”

“It could be,” I said, “I don’t remember.  How did you make out through the winter?”

“I had double pneumonia. Mind you, I get that every winter, it’s from working with asbestos when I was younger. Now I have a double hernia.  It sounds like ordering a coffee, ‘I’ll have a double, double please, to go.’ Thursday go to the doctor for the operations. The idea scares the shit out of me. I’ve never had an operation before. That’s why I’ve been putting it off. One I should have had done last year. Now the pain is so bad, I can’t put it off any longer.

“Did you hear what happened to Shark? I’ll let him tell you.”

Shark said, Irene and I had a home invasion last week by a motorcycle gang. They had the idea that I was cutting into some of their drug business. I’m a little fish, what you might call the bottom rung of the ladder, if I’m even on the ladder. I’m a junkie, I sell enough to get me through to the end of the month. I’m not any competition for them, in I don’t even sell near where I live. My customers are all from the suburbs.”

I said, “Someone must have ratted on you.”

“Yeah, that’s what happened. This woman said I was stealing some of her customers. That was bullshit. They asked me, ‘Where is your safe? Where’s your stash?’ I said, ‘I don’t have a safe. I got a few pills that’s all.’  I got a flashlight and showed them around the place, back to front, top to bottom. I asked them ‘Do you see any safe?’ It was Irene that gave up the money, four hundred bucks. The same thing happened the next night, another four hundred bucks.’

I asked, “Did either of you get hurt?’

“No, I guess we didn’t look like we were any kind of threat. They kicked the door down. Irene was shitting bricks. I asked them, ‘What are you going to do, kill us? I’m dying of AIDS, Irene has cancer, that’s how we get the marijuana and the Oxycontin, we have medical prescriptions for them.  Do what you want. I don’t care.’

 

 

 

 

 

Problems

 

wheel

 

7 July 2015

“Good morning, Chuck. How is your day going so far?”

“The same. It’s always the same. I don’t want to be here, but I have to be. I bought a lottery ticket. I just tore it up. Nothing. If I won $5000.00 you wouldn’t see me again.

“I got a new pair of sunglasses. My eyes are very sensitive to light. Wouldn’t you know it, yesterday I forgot them at home. My eyes were so red and puffy I could hardly see, not that I can see much anyway. I watch the news on television, I look at the newspaper, but read mostly the headlines and a word here and there. Usually, I know most of the story already.”

I said to him, “I have an electronic reader.” I pulled it out and showed him how I can increase the size of the type.

“No, I’ve seen those before. I don’t like them.  The last time I read a book was seven years ago when I was in hospital. I started it in hospital, it took me a year to read it.”

I remarked, “It feels like there’s rain in the air. I wonder when it’s going to start?”

“I don’t care if it rains. I don’t care if we have twenty feet of snow.

“I saw this forensic investigation program last night. This guy murdered his wife using toothpaste. He distilled the chlorine out of it and injected it behind her cornea. One shot would have killed her, but he injected her twice. That’s how they caught on to him.

“It’s amazing how many harmful things are around us. I have to be extra careful walking Goldie. She could dart into a hedge and eat a poisonous plant. Then, of course, there are ticks. Mind you not all ticks are dangerous. We happen to be in a part of the country where there are blacklegged, or deer ticks that can cause lyme disease.

“I’m having some problems right now that I have to resolve. If I can get those sorted out, I’ll disappear. You won’t see me here again.”

 

 

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